Why are vapor products in the news right now?

Across the United States, there have been reports of vaping-associated lung injury and deaths associated with vaping. The specific cause of the injury is not known. There have been hundreds of confirmed cases throughout the U.S., including several in Washington state.


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What are vapor products?

Vapor products are devices that produce an aerosol (particles suspended in the air), not a vapor, by heating a liquid that contains many chemicals. Users inhale the aerosol and chemicals into their lungs. There are over 60 inhaled chemicals including:

  • Nicotine
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis/marijuana)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD, another chemical found in cannabis/marijuana)
  • Flavorings and other additives like heavy metals and oils

What is vaping?

Vapor product use is referred to as “vaping” because the liquid solution resembles a vapor when it is inhaled.

How can I reduce my risk of vaping-associated lung injury?

  • Vapor products and vaping are not safe. Avoid using vapor products and vaping until the cause of this outbreak is known.
  • Talk to your kids about the risks of vaping.
  • Seek medical attention if you experience coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or fatigue and use vapor products.
  • Do not buy vapor products off the street and do not make liquid to vape at home.
  • Youth, young adults, pregnant women and adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not use vapor products.

I want to quit using vapor products and vaping, but I can’t. What should I do?

Adults and youth who want to quit should talk to their doctor about treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you want to stop using vapor products, or any tobacco product, you can call the Quitline at 1.800.QUIT.NOW or 1.800.784.8669.

I used vapor products to help me quit smoking. What should I do?

If you have already switched to vapor products, talk to your health care provider or contact the Quitline at 1.800.QUIT.NOW or 1.800.784.8669 to discuss treatment options like counseling and FDA-approved medications. The CDC recommends that adults who use vapor products to quit smoking do not return to smoking cigarettes.

I heard vaping-associated lung injury is caused by marijuana or THC oils. Is that true?

We do not yet know what causes this injury. Many, but not all, patients who developed this injury report that, in addition to nicotine, they vaped pre-filled cartridges of cannabis-derivative products like THC or CBD.

I buy THC or CBD oils from a licensed cannabis shop. Is that safe?

No product has yet been identified as safe, and there is no evidence to date that any set of ingredients or extraction techniques prevent the injury. Additionally, information about ingredients or extraction techniques listed on packaging may not be accurate. Ingredients that may be safe when eaten or applied to skin may not be safe when vaporized or inhaled.

Is exposure to second-hand vapor dangerous?

While no cases of vaping-associated lung injury are linked to second-hand vapor exposure, it is still not safe. Many of the dangerous chemicals found in the vapor inhaled by the user are also found in second-hand vapor.

FAQ adapted from content created by the Maryland Department of Health and Public Health - Seattle & King County.

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